Nike (Greek mythology) is the Greek goddess of victory, both in battle and in sport. The Romans knew her as Victoria, a name that obviously means "victory", and is still popular today.
Nike was one of four children of the Titan god of war Pallas, and the Naiad Styx (not to be confused with the river Styx of Hades Underworld). Her siblings are Kratos (Greek mythology), Bia (Greek mythology), and Zelus (Greek mythology), who represented Strength, Force, and Rivalry, respectively.
Most people recognize the name Nike in association with the globally popular shoe brand. This is not by accident. The founder of Nike (corporation), Phil Knight, chose the name purposely for its association with victory in sport. In fact, everything about the branding of the company comes from the mythology of this goddess.
Interestingly, for a goddess of such fame, there isn't a lot of mythology about Nike (Greek mythology). Most tales of Nike are intermixed with tales of Athena (Greek mythology), the goddess of War and Strategy. Nike and Athena were both said to be among the few gods to stand by the side of Zeus, king of the gods, in the famous war against the king of monsters Typhon for control of Olympus.
This is probably where Nike's run in Greek mythology really begins and
ends. It is said that she, along with her siblings, were the first to
join Zeus in that battle, and they are often all depicted as standing by
his throne as his sentinels. Nike herself was given a golden chariot
to lead Zeus's troops into battle.
From this point in the legend, there is not much talk about Nike. Athena really takes over as the primary goddess of this myth, though Nike is attributed by the ancient poet Nonnus of Panopolis, with one of myth's first great victory speeches to Zeus prior to the battle with Typhon:
"Lord Zeus! Stand up as champion of your own children! Let me never see Athene mingled with Typhon, she who knows not the way of a man with a maid! Make not a mother of the unmothered! Fight, brandish your lightning, the fiery spear of Olympos! Gather once more your clouds, lord of the rain! For the foundations of the steadfast universe are already shaking under Typhon’s hands : the four blended elements are melted! Deo has renounced her harvests. Hebe has left her cup, Ares has thrown down his spear, Hermes has dropped his staff, Apollon has cast away his harp, and taken a swan’s form, and flown off on the wing, leaving his winged arrows behind! Aphrodite, the goddess who brings wedlock to pass, has gone a wandering, and the universe is without seed. The bonds indissoluble of harmony are dissolved, leaving behind his generative arrows, the adorner of brides, he the all-mastering, the unmastered! And your fiery Hephaistos has left his favourite Lemnos, and dragging unruly knees, look how slowly he keeps his unsteady course! See a great miracle --I pity your Hera, though she hates me sure enough! What--is your begetter [Kronos] to come back into the assembly of the stars? May that never be, I pray! Even if I am called a Titenis, I wish to see no Titan lords of Olympos, but you and your children. Take your lordly thunderbolt and champion chase Artemi."
Return from Nike Greek Mythology to the List of Greek Gods & Goddesses.